Tonight when I returned home from shopping after work today, I suddenly found myself ecstatic to realize I was able to make a version of a dish that is a personal favorite of mine without pre-planning! So here’s what happened, and… just remember (or learn for the first time) that before you continue reading this recipe attempt. I experiment in the kitchen. I mean it.
You might be wondering what could have made for an impromptu kitchen experiment?
What I didn’t realize when I had stopped at a couple of different stores this evening was that I had picked up a collection of ingredients that together would make a dish I just couldn’t resist making. First, a little history – so please forgive.
When Drew and I went to the Cleveland Food Show in November of 2010, we enjoyed a fantastic meal at Chef Michael Symon‘s restaurant, Lolita. It was here that I first tasted and began a life-long lustful relationship with Soppressata. And just what is this stuff? An Italian salami made of pork, or sometimes beef, cured in oil. To be honest, its fat with protein and fat and a little seasoning…lol.
(To find Soppressata today was a down right gift AND marked down at that! Interestingly, I didn’t necessarily think that much of when I picked up the other various ingredients that made up tonight’s meal: goat cheese infused with honey, water crackers (on clearance of course), cheddar cheese with almonds, chicken meatballs made with sun dried tomatoes, basil and provolone.)
This past fall when I was in the Cincinnati area, a group of great guys and I gathered together at a place I picked from a local web listing of highly rated on-line eating establishments. Relish Modern Tapas Restaurant provided us with a great experience and oh so many ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. In fact, if I recall correctly, a cocktail or two was deemed amongst the best we had tasted; try the Blueberry Lemontini. Now what exactly are tapas? Spanish in origin, they are typically hot or warm appetizers. The origins are said to relate to ‘covering’ something, such as bringing together ingredients in layers. Relish’s modern take on “small plates of familiar dishes” treated me to some wonderful empanadas and spanish meatballs (as pictured here). But enough about that.
Tonight’s dinner was inspired by that wonderful meal and a desire to enjoy bite size morsels known as amuse-bouche. As I was unpacking my groceries and dividing them up, I realized some of the unexpected ingredients purchased spoke to me, TAPAS!
Being honest, this particular kitchen experiment doesn’t come from a recipe. I have confessed before and will continue to admit that my watching Food Network has given me a lot of education and ideas. And so tonight, I had a bunch of appetizers for dinner and I loved it!
Here’s what I put together for two versions tapas to create tonight’s dinner:
Water crackers layered with a half slice of Soppressata followed by a third of an ounce of honey infused goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
Water crackers layered with a third of an ounce of cheddar cheese coated in almond slices followed by 1/2 a chicken meatball and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
It was truly easy to put them together. In fact, I realized that these would make a great dish to prepare for a dinner party. (Preparation would be key to allow for a smooth assembly process.) With the two versions I made, each had an interesting flavor profile. The more traditional ‘italian’ version (Soppressata) was lighter when compared against the more modern ‘american’ (chicken meatballs) version. If I was to serve them up for a dining establishment, I would say the ‘italian’ style is more suited for a cafe or bistro where as the ‘american’ version is comforting and could find itself at home in a gastro or brew pub. Who knows… perhaps one day this will be on a menu of my choosing. Until then, I look forward to recreating and making variations of this dish in the future.
All that said, get your behind in the kitchen and learn how to make food you love because we should all eat what we love, not what someone else thinks we should love. :)